This week’s column is a potpourri of questions as I continue to dig through my emailbox, beginning with some Batman-related Qs…
Was Frank Miller the first writer to dub Batman “the Dark Knight” or does the nickname predate THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS?
Prior to that groundbreaking epic, Batman was sometimes referred to as “the Darknight Detective” in Julie Schwartz-edited stories. However, I believe it was Frank who first used the term, Dark Knight.
I’m a little behind on my Batman supporting characters. Who are the The Question and The Spoiler?
— Ted (email@example.com)
The Question is not really a Batman supporting character. TV journalist Vic Sage made his debut in the 60s in BLUE BEETLE #1 back when the title was published by Charlton Comics. He joined Blue Beetle and other characters in their “migration” to the DC Universe, starring in his own title in the late 80s. A chemical gas changes Sage’s hair color and adheres a mask to his face, allowing him to roam the streets beating up criminals without being recognized.
The Spoiler is Stephanie Brown, daughter of the old Batman foe, Arthur “Cluemaster” Brown. She debuted in DETECTIVE COMICS #647 in 1992 and has played a part in Robin’s life ever since.
Neither character, like so many in the Batman corner of the DCU, has any super-powers. Both, however, are extremely good in hand-to-hand combat.
Michael Fleisher’s Batman volume of his never completed ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMIC BOOK HEROES seems to identify DETECTIVE #49 as the last regular appearance of Julie Madison, Bruce Wayne’s first girlfriend.
Did Julie Madison appear (either as a recurring character or in a cameo role) in any issues of the Batman titles after her appearance in DETECTIVE #49? If so, would you list them for me or let me know where I might find such a list?
— Thom Young [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Bruce Wayne’s fiancee made her debut in DETECTIVE #31 and during her brief tenure was twice targeted for death by the original Clayface. During that time, Julie became a prominent movie actress, starring in the horror film, “Dread Castle.” She broke off the engagement because she felt Bruce would never be anything more than a playboy, never doing anything of meaning in his life.
I do not recall any more appearances of Julie, but given the penchant for latter-day writers to bring back characters from the past, I could be wrong. (And, if so, you can bet I’ll hear about it!)
During the Batman: Knightsend saga where Bruce Wayne underwent training to become Batman, he had to face an group of ninjas, one at a time, because the ninjas thought that he who killed their master. (It was actually Lady Shiva who did.) Did anyone at DC ever address the fact that Bruce only faced six disciples when originally there were supposed to be seven?
— Sendil Krishnan [email@example.com]
It is most likely that someone simply forgot what the count was. However, given what I said up above about writers bringing back characters, your question might inspire one of the current Bat-scripters to find that seventh disciple.
BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ
1. Flipping a half-scarred silver dollar determines what who does?
2. Originally from Earth-2, a revamp said who was actually her daughter?
3. Running on air was one of the tricks employed when who adopted his criminal guise?
4. Taking a nap and making enormous sandwiches are trademarks of whose husband?
5. His best friend was Wendy the Witch; who is he?
6. Ever-hopeful, Norrin Radd sought to return to the arms of whom?
7. Mon-El joined the Legion after adopting what guise?
8. Eventually, what hero grew up to be Skyman?
9. Morley Erwin helped James Rhodes operate whose armor?
10. Owlwoman, Godiva and Little Mermaid are members of what team?
11. Rainwater, Rupert Kenboya, and a red ape named Djuba played a part in whose origin?
12. If you fight mano a mano with Mano, what foes are you facing?
13. Everything burned at whose touch, except his apparently fireproof diaper?
14. Speedy, Wing and the Star Spangled Kid were the underage members of what group?
BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL:
1. There are more chickens than people in the world.
2. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
3. It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
MORE FROM THE EMAILBOX
How is it possible that the movie industry has continued to raid comic book material for development of “new” ideas for films and comic books have not been able to capitalize on this form of “advertising”?
— R. Lawson [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The movie industry doesn’t “raid” comic book material. They pay lots of money to the publishers for what they option and turn into films.
But why doesn’t this big-screen exposure turn into comic book sales? Could be because of the stretched out continuities in the comics make them all but inaccessible to casual readers, that comic books aren’t that easily found in stores (other than comic shops), or that general movie audiences just aren’t interested in reading comic books.
What is it gonna take for DC and Marvel to promote comics a little outside of the industry? Why don’t they spring for a quick ad during a Pokemon show or something, just take a little risk here and there and get the word out?
— Richard Scott [Peter_Steele_1@hotmail.com]
Because there would be little if anything to gain from it.
As I mentioned above, comic books aren’t that easily found in stores other than comic shops… and there are only about 3,000 of those left in the US. If there’s a commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes or Levi’s Jeans or Pepsi-Cola, most people could walk out of their homes and find these products in any one of a dozen convenient locations. Not so with comic books.
Back in the 1950s, during the heyday of “The Adventures of Superman” TV series, the closest they got to a plug for comics was a tag line at the end of the show that “Superman is based on the character appearing in ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN magazine.” Did that get people running out to find the books… back when they were available at newsstands and mom-and-pop stores everywhere? Maybe. But there were certainly lots more places to look.
Bob, maybe you can clear up something that’s been bothering me for years.
Exactly whose idea was it way back when to have Tex Blaisdell absolutely destroy Curt Swan’s pencils on Superman in the mid to late 70s. Since you were working with Julie Schwartz in those days, I thought maybe you could some light on that question.
What did Curt think of Tex Blaisdell’s inks? Why didn’t Bob Oskner ink more of Curt instead of Tex? Can you fill us in?
— K. Mumtaz [email@example.com]
Many of the inking assignments were made by then-Art Director Vince Colletta. Tex had been working with Bob Oksner for quite awhile on the Superman books, inking the backgrounds and secondary characters. When Bob, who was also drawing the newspaper strip “Dondi” at the time, had too much to handle, the decision was made to let Tex fly solo.
I don’t know what Curt thought of any of the artists who inked his art. He was a professional who did the work he was assigned to the best of his ability and let his editors decide who they thought could best enhance it with the inks. Obviously, some editors had better ideas than others.
I really enjoyed the Calculator series you wrote as a backup feature in DETECTIVE COMICS during the late 70’s. Just plain fun comics! With Grell, Rogers & Austin, the art was terrific as well. Wouldn’t be great if they reprinted that?
I remember reading how a DC editor disliked Marshall Rogers’ work on that feature so much that he nearly didn’t get the job to draw the main comic in the issues that followed. Do you know any more details on that story?
Yes, it’d be nice to see the Calculator stories reprinted, but I don’t hold my breath waiting to see any of my work turn up in collected volumes.
As for the Marshall Rogers story, we’re back to Vince Colletta again. Marshall took over the back-up stories (after two by Mike Grell and one by Ernie Chua) and was my choice for the concluding chapter as the Calculator took on Batman and the other five heroes. Julie Schwartz agreed, but Vinnie was underwhelmed with Marshall’s work. Ultimately (and because Julie managed to have the artists Vinnie wanted to use already busy with other work), Mr. Colletta relented.
So while Steve Englehart gets the claim to fame for his Bat-collaborations with Marshall and Terry Austin, they probably never would have happened if not for the Calculator story.
Join me again next week for more of your questions and my answers.
We salute the long career of Bob Hope with answers that tie into the titles of some of his movies.
1. Two-Face [“Let’s Face It”]
2. Black Canary [“The Cat and the Canary”]
3. James Jesse [“Alias Jesse James”]
4. Blondie [“My Favorite Blonde”]
5. Casper the Friendly Ghost [“Ghostbreakers”]
6. Shalla Bal [“The Road to Bali”]
7. Legionnaire Lemon [“The Lemon Drop Kid”]
8. The Star-Spangled Kid [“Star Spangled Rhythm”]
9. Iron Man’s [“The Iron Petticoat”]
10. Global Guardians [“A Global Affair”]
11. B’wana Beast [“Call Me Bwana”]
12. The Fatal Five [“The Five Pennies”]
13. Hot Stuff [“Some Like It Hot”]
14. The Seven Soldiers of Victory [“The Seven Little Foys”]
There’s always hope when you check out the daily question at BobRo’s Anything Goes Trivia at www.wfcomics.com/trivia.
Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.